Birth, Born (Metal Blade Records 2022)

San Diego prog rock band Birth issue their debut full-length album, Born.

Birth emanated from the band Astra, the latter having released an impressive set of albums, including The Weirding (2009) and The Black Chord (2012). They play progressive rock in a style that might remind you of King Crimson at times, or the deeper moments of Yes. Jazz inlays and ethereal engagements combine with celestial pulses and expeditions featuring ever-present key work and mesmerizing guitars. The band is Conor Riley (keys, acoustic guitar, vocals), Brian Ellis (guitar, keys), Trevor Mast (bass), and Thomas DiBenedetto (drums).

There are six tracks on the new album, beginning with the title song. O man, what a way to kick things off. It is a psychedelic flashback that could be a combination of ELP and Yes with more cosmic energy infused into monumental conceptions of Earth. Illustrious keys and vibrant guitar enterprises give way to thoughtful, languid explorations. It was difficult to resist simply hitting repeat over and over on the first song. “Descending Us” comes next with a more serious-sounding set-up. The vocals transform from bard to soothsayer as the song goes along, and the guitar is a constant reminder of flux, creation and destruction.

Throughout the album, we experience this manner of journey and description at every turn. We are invited, really, to consider what is happening around us at the terrestrial level as well as the celestial one, and all spaces in between. “Cosmic Tears” is perhaps my favorite song on the album as it, for me, showcases best the way in which a paradigm can be constructed – it imagines the edges of understanding then peers within them and beyond. The writing and performance are exceptional. Highly recommended.

Born is out from Bad Omen Records and Metal Blade Records on Friday, July 15th. This is one to mark on the calendar.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://birthprog.bandcamp.com/album/born

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Birth.prog

Bad Omen Records, http://www.bad-omen-records.com/

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/us/

© Wayne Edwards

Birth, Born (Metal Blade Records 2022)

Earthless, Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Heavy psych-metal trio Earthless are back with a new two-track, sixty minute album: Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons.

Earthless is a trio that play guitar-driven, primarily instrumental, music. You could call it stoner, and that counts, but heavy psych makes a little more sense to me. I am a huge fan of instrumental heavy music, and Earthless has been a favorite of mine since I first heard them – so label them however you like so long as you listen to the music. The band is Isaiah Mitchell (guitar, vocals), Mike Eginton (bass), and Mario Rubalcaba (drums).

Earthless is known for long instrumental pieces, as on their seminal on albums Sonic Prayer (2005) and Rhythms From A Cosmic Sky (2007). More recently, on 2018’s Black Heaven, they created shorter songs, many with vocals. While the singing was a surprise, I liked that album a lot, too, because it still had the amazing musical compositions I had come to expect from the band. On One Hundred Demons, it is back to the long form.

According to the band, the new music was sparked by an ancient story. “The album and its title were inspired by an ancient Japanese legend in which a horde of demons, ghosts and other terrifying ghouls descend upon sleeping villages at night, once a year. Known as Hyakki Yagyō, or the “Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons,” one version of the tale states that anyone who witnesses this otherworldly procession will die instantly—or be carried off by the creatures of the night. As a result, the villagers hide in their homes, lest they become victims of these supernatural invaders.”

There are two tracks on the new album. The title track is forty minutes long and split into two parts. The second song is “Death To The Red Sea,” a mere twenty minutes. The short one was released in advance of the album, so I heard it first. It is an incredible high-energy heavy metal guitar jam sustained over the entire run time after only a very short on-ramp. It is simply incredible. It don’t know how the musicians can do it, frankly, especially Mitchell, whose fingers must have been on fire by the end.

“Night Parade of One Hundred Demons” begins more slowly and has a beautiful opening section that builds quietly, hopefully. The tempo turns sharply about seven minutes into a more dramatic posture and urgent style and pace. There is a roaring guitar movement near the fourteen-minute mark that is the inevitable result of the preceding arc. The second movement takes off in the mysterious direction and leads us along the ever-blurring path of nighttime and the cosmic realm. The incredible guitar passages are here, too, of course, and the finale is a grand exposition.

Earthless delivers on every level with this new album. The extended, intricate pieces are absorbed into your psyche while you listen. This is top-form work. Highly recommended.

Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons is out now through Nuclear Blast Records.

Links.

Website, https://www.earthlessofficial.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/earthlessrips

Nuclear Blast Records, https://www.nuclearblast.com/eu/earthless

Earthless, Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Carnifex, Graveside Confessions (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Carnifex is back with their eighth long-player, Graveside Confessions.

Hailing from San Diego, Carnifex has built an indelible reputable for creating blackened deathcore music over the past fifteen years. From their first full-length album Dead In My Arms (2007) all the way through to their newest, Graveside Confessions, their unique perspective has given color and life to the unforgettable music they create. Each new album is an adventure, and it is one you can’t wait to take. The band is Scott Lewis (vocals), Shawn Cameron (drums), Cory Arford (guitar), and Fred Calderon (bass).

The music is crushing, punishing deathcore on songs like the opener, the title track. The percussion is killer, absolutely blistering. The vocals are a study in savagery. And then there are other, unusual elements – who could have anticipated the lyrical flourish that blinks in and out? A solemnity enters the discussion at half past, a contemplative reflection, and then the crushing continues. The outcome of this multifaceted musical attack is obliterating.

The show goes on for more than an hour with one explosive emanation after another. “Seven Souls” was a track that stood out for me, and so did “Talk To The Dead.” But then there is the haunting and unusual “January Nights” followed immediately by the rampaging “Cemetery Wanderer.” This album is a wonderland of dark riches.

A pleasant surprise on the new album is the re-recorded versions of three songs from the band’s first album: “Collaborating Like Killers,” “My Heart In Atrophy,” and “Slit Wrist Savior.” The improvements in recording technology that have occurred since the originals were set down are employed in the best possible ways make these early songs gleam. All this comes together to create an irresistible album. Highly recommended.

Graveside Confessions is out now from Nuclear Blast Records. Get the goods at the label link below or by jumping from the band’s website.

Band photo by Jim Louvau.

Links.

Carnifex website, http://www.carnifexmetal.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/CarnifexMetal

Nuclear Blast, https://www.nuclearblast.com/en/music/band/discography/details/7429480.3074076.graveside-confessions.html

Carnifex, Graveside Confessions (Nuclear Blast 2021)